Quick Hits, Cal-Louisiana Tech

Posted by: Avinash on Monday, September 17th, 2007

California Golden Bears defeat Louisiana Tech BulldogsHere are the ruminations from the beatdown of the Bulldogs.

–I’ve been noticing it more and more, but Longshore tends to hesitate on his passes. He takes his steps back in the pocket, steps forward…then…waits one step too many to unleash the ball. It’s as if he’s trying to make the perfect throw when he should make a snap release. This tendency led to several overthrown/underthrown balls and confusion on the receiving lanes. If Longshore can throw with as much confidence as he does on his quick slants and outs, then he can utilize the explosiveness of the receiving corps to maximal efficiency.

Short explanation: Nate could have laid 60 on the Dogs. Easily. And he probably knows it too.

–On the flip side, I am very pleased by our running game. Forsett isn’t going to be mistaken for Marshawn anytime soon, but he’s viciously effective and has shown the ability to cut back across the field (evidenced by that touchdown run). The offensive line continues to open up the seams and additionally provides Longshore with excellent pocket protection so he doesn’t even have to worry about scrambling for most of the game. Best provides the occasional explosiveness and Montgomery does a little bit too. But I think Forsett’s ability to grind the ball behind that O-Line and keep the ball and the clock moving is the big key to the BCS campaign this year.

–Our broken tackling problem has grown from nuisance to menace. This was excusable against Tennessee (since the Vols can’t tackle drunk sorority sisters at this point) and maybe Colorado State because of the week-long hangover. Just watching that relentless USC defense pound the Huskers later that night makes you pine for the day we construct a real Cal defense that brings people down. Currently many of our players (mainly on the line and in the secondary) are more willing to wrap two arms around the legs of the offensive player and hope he trips up and falls down. We’ve only done this so far with modest success.

–And maybe it’s just me, but I’m no fan of “Bend Not Break”. You can only bend so long before you start breaking, especially once a competent team figures out your strategy and starts exploiting it ruthlessly. Tech didn’t have the weapons to do that, but if they’re smart the Ducks will run it up the gut every play in Eugene in two weeks. Many Cal fans believe our explosive offense will be enough to carry us to the Rose Bowl. I don’t believe you can win with a transparent defensive strategy that everyone on the other team knows about.

If your offense is going to be dynamic, there’s no reason your defense should miss the mark too. Mix up a few blitzes and a few packages covering the deep routes and the defense gets a little bit more unpredictable for offenses to read. I can’t tell you how tired of watching that 5 to 10 yard dumpoff Tech threw all game when nothing else was available. A Pac-10 team will finish those drives, so the need for spontaneity (or an amazing defensive resurgence) is especially necessary.

–But dude, we won by 30!

So? The only people who were impressed were the AP pollsters, who were too busy watching Texas stumble against my old Golden Knights (the college football team of my youth, back when I lived in Orlando–right where an academic genius like George O’Leary belongs) and Wisconsin spot 31 to the Citadel. So far our lack of TV coverage has helped us; not many people outside of the Bay Area have been looking into us. The excuses won’t last for long though–Oregon looms in two weeks, most likely on ABC. (EDIT: Confirmed; game’s on ABC)

–There is, however, one very interesting tidbit to examine, and that’s the mentality of the new Cal football program. These guys knew they could have played better, didn’t shrug off the errors as part of the game (like they might have two years, maybe even a year ago), and still feel like they haven’t played to their potential. This constant dissatisfaction week-in, week-out could prove to be a powerful motivational tool as the season progresses. Considering the way Arizona has been playing, the Bears will probably have one more chance to wash off all the post-Tennessee rust and get back to top form for the Pac-10 schedule.

Football blog roundups coming later in the day.

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